The Chicago Bulls have loaded their starting five with a superstar in Dwyane Wade and a problematic point guard in Rajon Rondo, but can they make it work?
After yesterday's Best Case Scenario article, here's a a pessimists outlook of the Chicago Bulls season.
Three-point shooting? Who needs it?
Ends up, most teams do!
In the Tom Thibodeau era of the Chicago Bulls, the team distanced itself from knocking down shots from deep and had some level of success in doing so. There’s no doubt that they did have a handful of guys who were able to help space the floor, but it would be generous to say they were a solid three-point shooting team.
If fans thoughts those teams were bad from deep, enter the 2016-17 Chicago Bulls who have legitimately only two known threats from deep: Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. Both of which are players who won’t be on the team’s starting five and even if they could be, they have incomplete games.
Between the two, Doug McDermott is who I feel would genuinely be better from three-point range. His shooting motion is silky smooth, and last season he shot 42.5 percent from behind the arc. But he’s still young, plays some panic defense (which I have to admit, has improved significantly), and doesn’t look ready to play heavy minutes in a game. For stretches off the bench, he’ll be solid.
Nikola Mirotic remains this wild card of a player who has all the tools to be solid, but it’s yet to amount to anything, minus a strong March in his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls. In the preseason, Mirotic averaged 7.5 points per game on an abysmal 24.1 percent from three. This isn’t to say that he’ll shoot this poorly throughout the regular season, but it’s certainly demonstrative of his inconsistent shot from deep. Additionally, the fear is that Mirotic will slip into a Kevin Love-like role in Cleveland, where the team only camps him behind the three-point arc out of necessity, rather than allowing him to drive to the basket and try to draw contact on his way there or finish at the rim. I wrote a previous piece regarding Nikola Mirotic earlier this month on why he should start, which I still stand by, despite the fact that it could prove to be an absolute disaster for the team.
This is a band-aid team
Admitting this fact is hard for Chicago Bulls fans, but it does have the makings of being a band-aid team. Meaning the Bulls will have to help tide fans over until they get a solid rookie or a favorable trade in their direction. Bringing Rajon Rondo on board is a move that still makes me sick, and Dwyane Wade, while being a solid shooting guard still, really doesn’t fit what the Chicago Bulls need. He simply has the draw of being a superstar player who has a Chicago connection, meaning a huge pop from the crowd when he steps on the court. Again, there’s no doubt that Wade will perform well enough on the Chicago Bulls, but the addition of him seems to be in a weird attempt to form a superstar Bulls team. Right now, the team needs to be looking towards the future of the organization and making wise trades that net them draft picks, or at least younger prospects.
One of the greatest fears for any NBA team is falling into basketball purgatory, forming a team that is just good enough to land in the NBA playoffs, but not able to get solid draft picks. That is all I see from this Chicago Bulls team. They’ll manage to be a bottom feeder team in the Eastern Conference, pick up some big wins along the way against solid squads and get fans excited for the future. But what does it really amount to? A possible trip to the second round of the NBA playoffs if they're lucky? If this Bulls team somehow manages to top Fred Hoiberg’s abysmal debut as an NBA coach for the Bulls, it’ll be regarded as a success, unnecessarily so.
Fred Hoiberg still doesn’t get it
At some point, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to blame Fred Hoiberg for the team's miserable season last year. There was a lot of fluctuating emotions in the locker room. Joakim Noah went down with an injury, and ultimately, it was a lot for Fred Hoiberg to handle.
So the solution is to bring in two veteran players who have already had problematic relationships with coaches, such as Rajon Rondo. Seems a bit unnecessary, but sure. My concern going forward is that it doesn’t actually allow for Hoiberg to grow as a coach because Wade and Rondo plan on taking the reigns of team morale and leadership into their hands. A plan that has been successful with some other squads (see: last year's Cavaliers team. I don’t mean to diminish the role of Tyronne Lue, but come on). Fred Hoiberg still hasn't been given the opportunity to have a young squad to make an impression on, which isn’t to say that the Bulls need to move all of their pieces they have in place, but I don’t anticipate he’s going to look like the coach that fans wanted him to be. If he can correct his substitution issues that he faced last year, run better offensive sets, and ultimately be more vocal in the locker room, it’ll benefit the team. It’s just a matter of him being able to prove that he can do all of this, and he’s still hasn't shown any signs of that happening.
Let’s make a deal
I swear I must’ve suffered a concussion following draft night due to me repeatedly banging my head on my desk. The Bulls had an outstanding number of offers on the table for Jimmy Butler. Those offers included deals from the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The varying deals mentioned included getting the third pick from Boston, the fifth pick from Minnesota (along with Zach LaVine, possibly), and Nerlens Noel from Philadelphia (along with some late picks in the 2016 draft). Do I dare say the Bulls missed their chance to land a huge package that would’ve helped them begin to rebuild?
Absolutely. I’m not sure the team’s options will be any better this season, due to the fact that the Bulls will manage to stay afloat and ultimately land a playoff spot. The time to move Jimmy, should the Bulls decide to do so, is now. There is still a possibility of a relatively high return on him.
The Bulls should be in a rebuild mode right now. The Derrick Rose era of Chicago Bulls basketball was a mix of joy, misery, and ultimately ended on a bit of a confusing note, and I don’t entirely think that Jimmy Butler is the next harbinger of winning basketball in Chicago. Chicago Bulls management has made it clear that their goal is simple: bring mediocre basketball to Chicago in hopes that fans will still flock to the United Center in hopes of seeing an aging superstar perform well, and a young talented guard go off.
The Bulls are due to land a 44-38 record by my estimation, netting them either the 7th or 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. Regardless, they’ll be bounced out easily by either the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Boston Celtics.